Supreme Detachment of the Supreme Enjoyer

[Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 3.3.19-23 – Uddhava speaking to Vidura]

In Dvārakā, the All-Attractive enjoyed all desirable things as a follower of Vedic and popular custom. Yet, being the soul of all, he was unattached to all of it, and fixed in a philosophical outlook.

This is the premise that Uddhava elaborates on in the rest of the section: that the Supreme Enjoyer is also the Supreme Renunicant.

The point made here is that Krishna did interact with sense objects, following the normal Vedic customs and even following mundane popular customs. However, he was unattached to these interactions, due to his enlightenment.

The next two paragraphs will elaborate, first by explaining how he truly enjoyed,  then by explaining his renunciation.

To hear his words — expressed with affectionate, smiling glances — seemed like drinking nectar. His character was flawless and the very home of beauty and grace.

Krishna does not enjoy external sense objects, he enjoys love and affection. He is renounced from external objects and attached to the pleasures of internal sensations of love. He enjoys by sharing his internal energy (love) with others.

Thus he shared joy with this world, with other worlds, and most especially with his family, the Yadus.

He shared his internal love with the normal world, and also with the higher beings on other words, but most importantly and most intimately of all he shared love with his intimate companions, who appeared as members of his family.

Among those companions the most intimate of all were his queens…

Among them he shared the most special joy with his ladies, enjoying intimate moments with them in the relaxing opportunities of the night.

I can only direct the reader to the Sanskrit poetry here (3.3.21). It is impossible for me to do it justice in English. The poetic repitition and play on the word kṣaṇa is astonishing.

While enjoying like this for many dozens of years, he certainly did so with the fullest sense of detachment from the ordinary sexuality of ordinary couples.

This makes the point that Krishna’s interactions with his queens, family and so on, is not an affair of a bewildered soul grasping towards external objects and situations to fill a void of unhappiness within. His romantic interactions with his queens, for example, was essentially not  the same as the romantic interactions of ordinary couples because his queens are a manifestation of his own internal potency, and the romantic exchanges with them is expression of the internal energy (love). In the case of ordinary couples, on the other hand, the participants see themselves externally – as objects and subjects of material energy, and their expressions are not acts of joy but acts of hunger. Krishna’s romantic deeds are nothing like this, although of course ordinary romance cannot but imitate the external form of his divine romance.

Fate controls sense objects, and fate controls those who enjoy such objects. How can anyone be dedicated to the Master of Unity, if they have serious ambitions to unite with such sense objects?

Uddhava makes a concluding argument and statement simultaneously.

Uddhava’s argument is that even the devotees of Krishna (those “dedicated to the Master of Unity”) are devoid of interest in sense objects that are under the control of material fate; so what to speak of the person they are devoted to!? He certainly cannot be an external sense object, nor can he be interested in enjoying such things.

Uddhava’s statement is that if anyone wishes to participate in this exchange of spiritual, internal pleasure and joy with the All-Attractive, he or she needs to reduce and eventually eliminate their interest in pursuing external pleasures within the realm of karma / fate.

– Vraja Kishor

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